While the fight against plastic waste is gaining more resonance in Africa, the use of plastic bags is still well-rooted in custom and practice, at the expense not only of the environment but also of public health, without there being widespread awareness. That is why as a Blogger I am ringing the alarm bell!
Djibouti has been facing severe environmental degradation, desertification, drought, and water scarcity. Due to the hot weather, the population of Djibouti is very close to the looming of environmental problems. Marine pollution is one of the major environmental challenges, there is a lack of solid and liquid waste treatment plants in the cities, and one can easily see a lot of garbage on the side road and different places with blocked stormwater drainage and sewage.
I have taken part in one of the country’s biggest plastic recycling schemes striving to turn waste into something useful while cleaning up the environment. The ongoing global movement for eliminating plastics is gaining momentum in Djibouti and young people are adding their voice to it too. Several countries are now taking steps to eliminate the production and distribution of single-use plastics, some adopting a total ban on the production and use of plastic bags but Djibouti still has a long way to go. I fondly remember when I took part in the campaign Beat Plastic Pollution 2018 which mobilized the continent and its young people to come together and clean up plastics in land and water ecosystems. The campaign also encouraged governments to adopt the initiative and come up with regulations to curb plastic pollution.
Here in Djibouti, I am trying to mobilize young people through campaigns such as Bring Your Own Bag, which encourages people to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags. We will try to engage many retail outlets and restaurants in the country to take a stance to stop distributing single-use plastic bags. There are many strides being taken across Africa to rid the continent of plastic waste and turn these environmental challenges into an opportunity and youth are at the center of it. In Ali Sabieh one of the regions, Djibouti, a group of young people turned plastic waste to their advantage with an innovative solution: they collected plastic bags and repurposed them into mattresses.
I feel relieved when momentum driving these environmentally-conscious projects is picking up. So, with increased awareness about plastics, implementation of policies on environmental conservation and sustainability, as well as the channeling of resources that go into environmental research and innovative solutions Djibouti can do better on managing its plastic waste.
I strongly believe that young people play a key role in advocating for sound plastic waste management and environmental conservation, and in encouraging collaborative efforts and synergies to beat plastic pollution in Djibouti and beyond. By working together and collaboratively with all stakeholders (formal and informal), we can engender the behavioral changes required to beat plastic pollution in the medium to long term. Big businesses must play their part is cutting out unnecessary packaging from their products and supply chains.
Aicha Mohamed is 19 years old and a volunteer with the Ministry of Youths and Sports. At the Ministry, she helps with identifying other young people with great interest in climate change and the preservation of the environment. She hopes that she will play a big role in minimizing the climate change effects on Djibouti's population.